Hindu temple in Bolton celebrates landmark anniversary as it marks 50 years in the town

Video report by ITV Granada journalist Claire Hannah

The Swaminarayan Temple on Adelaide Street in Bolton is marking a very special birthday.

Fifty years ago the Mandir (or temple) was founded for worshippers who had moved to the area from India and wanted to bring their culture with them.

The late 60s and 70s saw a steady flow of people from the region of Kutch, Gujarat migrating and settling in the United Kingdom, with Bolton providing a safe haven for those early settlers.

As numbers grew it was only a matter of time before religious sermons were held in homes and later in hired halls so that they could hold religious assemblies, celebrate significant Hindu days and indeed gather as a community. 

The temple is funded entirely by donations from the Hindu community Credit: ITV News

As the community grew further, the community needed a bigger place so in 1973 bought a disused warehouse on Adelaide Street in the town to establish a temple.

It was renovated for purposes of worship, thus establishing the first Swaminarayan Temple in the UK of the original Swaminarayan faith, a branch of Hinduism.

The temple had two floors and could easily accommodate the growing numbers with the temple opening twice a day for regular worship.

Over the years the temple has been expanded, and in 1983 the Bolton community had the opportunity to buy land surrounding it.

This saw a new temple being created, entirely self-funded by the community with the kye feature being the stone tower, carved using world-famous Rajasthani Jaipur Red Stone, which was specially imported and assembled on site.

The Spiritual Leader arrives at the Temple. Credit: ITV Granada

2023 sees the 50th anniversary of the temple, and a week of celebrations.

On Wednesday September 5, the celebrations saw the spiritual leader of this sect of Hinduism, accompanied by a number of saints, attend for a ceremony called the 'ritual of the purification for the idol'.

Men and women gathered separately on different floors for the event at the temple.

There was also the prestigious changing of the flag on top of the stone tower, for which a family had made a donation to carry out the honour.

Women attend the celebration at the Temple Credit: ITV Granada

The nine day celebrations include a grand procession on Saturday, 9 September.

It will pass through Bolton town centre before returning to the temple, and will include youth and local community groups, live music, dancing and floats.

In addition this week will see a varied range of religious sermons, musical and cultural shows as well as a night dedicated to women showcasing their talents - all organised for free by volunteers.

Changing of the flag at Hindu temple Credit: ITV Granada

The organiser of the celebrations, Sid Ragvani, says it had been an emotional day:"You look around and you see tears in people's eyes.

"What they started and what it's become today and for them to be a part of it and for us to be a part of it. It's amazing."

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